Kenya has suspended all commercial and cargo flights to and from Somalia with effect from 11th May 2021 until at least 9th August 2021.
The decision means all chartered and scheduled flights to and from Somalia are suspended. However, flights from Somalia passing through the Kenyan airspace to other destinations are exempted. Also exempted are military flights which are not within the jurisdiction of the KCAA.
“All flights between the two countries are suspended except medical evacuation flights and United Nations flights on humanitarian missions only,” Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said in a statement.
Airlines likely to be affected by the suspension include those plying routes between the two countries, including African Express Airways (XU, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta), Freedom Airline Express (4F, Nairobi Wilson), Jubba Airways, Ocean Airlines (Somalia) (Mogadishu) and cargo carriers Astral Aviation (8V, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta), Skyward Express (OW, Nairobi Wilson) and Safe Air (K3, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta), according to the ch-aviation schedules module.
Just last week, Somalia had announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Kenya after it severed relations on 15th December 2020, accusing Nairobi of meddling in its political affairs. The restoration of ties followed mediation by Qatar. Somalia severed ties after Nairobi hosted Somaliland’s leadership, a breakaway state not recognized by the central government in Mogadishu.
The country has long bristled over what it calls Nairobi’s meddling in regions over its border. On the other hand, Nairobi has accused Mogadishu of using it as a scapegoat for its own political problems.
However, Somali officials clarified that resumed relations would not involve lifting the ban on miraa trade or discussions about the maritime boundary dispute before the International Court of Justice and awaiting a verdict.
The khat business has been lucrative for farmers. Before the suspension, as many as 15 flights carrying the narcotic stimulant used to make deliveries in several regions in Somalia per day. The continued suspension denies farmers millions of dollars in earnings from business with Somalia.
However, last year Somalia started allowing flights from Ethiopia to transport Khat, with those involved in the supply chain of the stimulant moving their operations to Ethiopia. At least four flights carrying Khat arrive in Somalia daily from Ethiopia.